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Power List 2012: 100 People Who Are Shaping St. Louis Today

Who’s got it, who’s lost it, & how to play the game

(page 5 of 9)


Rick Dildine

Executive Director, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

In 2010, Dildine’s first season here, 56,000 people came for Hamlet, breaking attendance records. The next year, 63,000 attended Taming of the Shrew. The festival beat that by 3,000 this summer for Othello. But Dildine’s a Shakespeare guy; describing him in numbers is like writing a poem in a spreadsheet. Yes, he keeps attendance growing, capital campaigns on track, and production values pristine. But he’s also collaborating with people on their own turf. He initiated Shake38, a five-day Shakespeare fest; Shakespeare in the Streets, which cast Cherokee residents in The Tempest; and MetroYouth Shakespeare, a high-school program looking at bullying through Romeo and Juliet. And we expect another attendance bump for next summer’s Twelfth Night—Dildine’s St. Louis debut as director.

Jim McKelvey

Owner, Third Degree Glass Factory; Co-Founder, Square

When SLM profiled McKelvey last March, Third Degree was well-known and well-loved, and Square was newish. Yeah, more than one person will tell you McKelvey’s a genius. (So is his collaborator…Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.) But even brilliant ideas can fail to lift off. Fast-forward to this past February, the Super Bowl, commercial break: There’s a Best Buy ad hailing a slew of tech gods, including McKelvey talking about Square. Fait accompli. Now, he’s advising Arch Grants, which just gave $750,000 in startup money to 15 tech companies. The catch? They’ve gotta move here. McKelvey is determined to transform St. Louis into a global tech hub—just like he turned your phone into a bank.

Chris Sommers

Owner, Pi

Five years ago, Sommers’ Pi rolled out a thick, cornmeal-based crust that has an entire generation questioning just what “St. Louis–style” pizza is—or should be. Meanwhile, the rest of us marvel that Sommers also fired up the city’s first food truck, designed a truly green restaurant, and was the first restaurateur to commit to the Mercantile Exchange. And to monitor his progress, he recently created Sqwid, a social network–based rewards app that lets businesses interact with and reward customers as transactions occur.

Emily Rauh Pulitzer

Founder and Chairman, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

This February, President Barack Obama gave Pulitzer a National Medal of Arts at the White House for establishing the foundation, as well as dedicating herself “to connecting art and viewers through her generosity in caring for well-established institutions” like the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and The Museum of Modern Art. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted, the award did come during St. Louisan Rocco Landesman’s tenure as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—but Pulitzer doesn’t need friends in high places. She’s got some serious altitude herself. Though she stays quietly behind the scenes, insiders say nothing gets done in Grand Center without her influence.

Dr. Gurpreet Padda

Restaurateur; Medical Director, The Padda Institute

The founder of The Padda Institute is also one of the city’s savviest restaurateurs. He and partner Ami Grimes use a winning formula for each of their restaurants: Research the concept (they visited 150 barbecue joints before opening Hendricks BBQ), self-finance the project, buy the property, source materials inexpensively, and add a unique twist—in Hendricks’ case, the basement Moonshine Blues Bar, complete with the eponymous liquor, soon to be distilled on-site.

Gerard Craft

Owner, Niche, Brasserie by Niche, Taste, Pastaria

No one believes in—or promotes—the St. Louis restaurant scene more than Craft. To reach a wider audience, he relocated his nationally acclaimed flagship restaurant Niche to Clayton’s Centene Plaza, while opening a family-oriented place, Pastaria, next door. At a time when most restaurant innovators are playing wait-and-see, Craft has opened two ventures within months of one another, and in a high-rent district, no less, further ratcheting this city’s culinary bar.

Brent Benjamin

Director, Saint Louis Art Museum

Even before Benjamin arrived in 1999, SLAM had talked about expanding. To do so, Benjamin led a $147 million capital campaign, what the  Post-Dispatch called “the most successful in the history of St. Louis’ cultural institutions,” and hooked English starchitect Sir David Chipperfield to design the addition. During construction, he not only kept the museum open and attendance up, but also fended off the Egyptian government and U.S. attorney’s office in a dispute over the 3,300-year-old cartonnage mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer.

Fred Bronstein

President and CEO, St. Louis Symphony

Classical-music purists have played their own tiny violins about the music of Bugs Bunny and The Beatles playing in Powell Hall. It’s no accident that this began after Bronstein’s arrival in 2008, but both ticket revenues and donations have risen. And being solvent has allowed SLSO to do things like, say, undertake its first European tour in 14 years. He’s a fiscal hard-liner who loves the music—which is why you’ll find a mix of pop culture and classical bringing in audiences.

Walter Metcalfe Jr.

Senior Counsel, Bryan Cave

Tinkering with St. Louis’ most iconic symbol—and raising $587.5 million to do it—requires considerable power. As chairman of the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, Metcalfe’s worked his formidable network. In 2008, Rep. Lacy Clay introduced a bill that would shift control of the Arch from the National Park Service to a trust managed by Metcalfe, Missouri Botanical Garden president emeritus Peter Raven, and Missouri History Museum president Robert Archibald. And while not everyone agrees with the foundation’s vision, Metcalfe has managed to help keep the Arch grounds’ overhaul moving forward.

The Genome Institute

In 2003, when the Human Genome Project deciphered the Rosetta stone of our own genetic makeup, the scientists at Wash. U’s Genome Institute contributed 25 percent of the final sequence. Under the guidance of director Richard Wilson and co-director Elaine Mardis (pictured), they went on to sequence the house-cat genome, as well as those of the Atlantic killifish, the American bald eagle, the orangutan, the platypus, the zebra finch, and C. elegans (a tiny, transparent roundworm that is a favorite laboratory organism). The institute now is doing astonishing work in cancer genomics, working to map the disease’s various and distinct signatures to deliver laser-precise treatments. It’s work that will save lives—and in fact, already has.

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